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Nasa reacts to reports about an asteroid hitting Earth in 2024

Could another asteroid like Bennu, which passes close to Earth about every six years, be about to strike our planet next year? (PA Media)
Could another asteroid like Bennu, which passes close to Earth about every six years, be about to strike our planet next year? (PA Media)

Nasa has quelled fears that an asteroid could hit Earth in the next few years.

GB News and other media outlets reported that the asteroid named 2007 FT3 was first spotted floating through space in 2007. However, scientists reportedly soon lost its flight path with no idea where it went.

After this, 2007 FT3 has been categorised as a "lost asteroid". According to GB News, Nasa said there was a 0.0000096 percent — or 1 in 10 million — chance of it striking our planet on March 3, 2030.

However, a Nasa spokesperson told the Standard: “There are no known asteroid impact threats to Earth at any time in the next century. Nasa and its partners diligently watch the skies to find, track, and categorise asteroids and near-Earth objects (NEOs), including those that may come close to Earth.

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"An important note here is planetary scientists define asteroid approaches that come within 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit as close approaches. The larger an asteroid is, the easier it is for our planetary defence experts to find, meaning that their orbits around the sun are usually very well-known and understood for years or even decades.”

An asteroid is a small rocky object that orbits the sun. These objects are remnants from the early formation of the solar system, and they are composed primarily of minerals, metals, and other elements.

Most asteroids are found in the asteroid belt, a region of space located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. However, they can also be found throughout the solar system.

Asteroids vary in size from tiny boulders to objects that are several hundred kilometres in diameter. The largest asteroid in the asteroid belt is Ceres, which is about 590 miles (940 kilometres) in diameter and is classified as both an asteroid and a dwarf planet.

Asteroids are distinct from comets, which are composed mostly of ice, dust, and volatile compounds and often develop tails when they come close to the sun. Some asteroids have irregular shapes, while others may be more spherical.

While the majority of asteroids are located in the asteroid belt, some have orbits that bring them closer to Earth. These are known as near-Earth asteroids (NEAs). Scientists study asteroids to learn more about the early solar system, and some missions, such as Nasa's OSIRIS-REx and Japan's Hayabusa2, have been launched to study and even collect samples from asteroids.

GB News reported that Nasa estimated there were more than 32,000 known near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) and over 120 known short-period near-Earth comets (NECs).

Nasa is the US government agency responsible for the nation's civilian space programme and for aeronautics and aerospace research.